2 Months To Go

It dawned on me a few days ago that I have just 2 months left in Shanghai and I’m really not ready to leave! Summer has arrived and while it is very humid it’s not yet unbearable so the weather is perfect for meals/drinks outdoors and I’m actually starting to get a bit of a tan! The university recently held a ‘Sports Day’ for the Chinese undergraduates so as our token of involvement a group of international students and I decided to host a ‘Drunken Olympics’ in one of the parks, complete with egg and spoon, three-legged and wheel-barrow races. Not sure it was quite what the university was aiming for but it was definitely a fun way to celebrate!

Fudan Campus in summer

Fudan Campus in summer

Another PhD student from St Andrews has joined me here for the next few months which is great, so nice to have a familiar face around the department and someone to discuss ideas and research with (i.e. have coffee breaks and gossip with). I’ve been taking him out with my friends here, showing him the local areas and the Shanghai nightlife and it’s making me realise how much I’ll miss this incredible city when I leave!

Permanent state of the lab - Messy/clutered surfaces and overflowing bin

Permanent state of the lab – Messy/clutered surfaces and overflowing bin


It has also given me the chance, though, to remember my first impressions of the lab when I arrived back in September. I’ve got quite used to the state of it so I’d forgotten how different it is to the ones we have back in St Andrews. The main difference is the lack of health and safety protocols here. When I order a new chemical or leave a reaction going on for several days there are no forms that must be filled out to ensure safety, there are no separate bins for glass and the large containers for waste chemicals aren’t separated into halogenated and non-halogenated waste as you’ll find in every lab in the western world. Most annoyingly, it’s just quite dirty. I used to spend a lot of time cleaning the lab surfaces/equipment when I first arrived but it seemed a bit futile so I don’t bother so much these days.


State of the lab aside, though, everything’s going well. I recently started a new project where I’m synthesizing new morphologies of copper oxide crystals and I think the results will be interesting! I’ve also been lucky to have the chance to travel around Asia a little bit over the last semester. I spent a long weekend in Hong Kong with a group of friends for the Rugby 7s tournament which was incredible, the atmosphere was insane and I was particularly happy since England made it to the final! It was interesting to experience a city that is so split between Chinese and Western cultures. It’s so much more international than any city I’ve visited in mainland China.

Catching some sun with friends in the Philippines

Catching some sun with friends in the Philippines

Shortly after that I spent a week getting nice and sunburnt in the Philippines. I definitely need to make more of an effort to see more of China, since moving here in September I’ve travelled to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Hong Kong and the Philippines but I haven’t even been to Beijing yet! That’s next on the list. I’ll be going up there for a long weekend in June to visit some friends studying at a university there. It would be ridiculous to spend a whole year in China and not even see the Great Wall!


So with 2 months left to go I’ve set myself some goals, academically, of things I want to achieve in the lab here before I return to finish my PhD in St Andrews and I’ve made some bucket lists with my friends of things left to do/see in Shanghai that I need to make sure I don’t miss out on. Who knows when I’ll next get a chance visit this awesome city again?!

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